Criminal Justice Major: Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice degreeGMercyU’s Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice combines innovative classroom and experiential learning to prepare you for law school, graduate school, or immediate entry into careers in the public or private sector – whether in government, law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, private security, or social justice and advocacy.

No matter what your path, you’ll learn how to make a positive impact in your life and your community.

As a Criminal Justice major, you'll explore patterns of criminal behavior, the philosophy of punishment for crimes, and the American legal system. You’ll learn to identify and analyze crimes using criminological theory, forensic science, and the latest in crime scene investigations.

And, whether you are learning to investigate an active crime scene, break down a drug conspiracy, or examine the behavior of a sexual predator, you will develop the key skills that employers most want – such as critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving — skills that have never been more relevant.

Program Details

Criminal Justice 2022Featuring 60 credits of Criminal Justice courses, ours is the most comprehensive, thorough criminal justice program in Pennsylvania, so you can dive deep into a specific interest within the field or discover the right path for you.

Here, you will benefit from:

Small classes with GMercyU’s low 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, taught by experts in the field – no teaching assistants.

A close-knit, supportive, and motivated community with professors who provide career mentorship and are invested in your success.

A transformational experience with GMercyU’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program® (see more below), which will challenge your viewpoints and offer you a new perspective on the criminal justice system.

Regional criminal justice leaders as guest speakers. Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey visited campus to discuss the importance of a college education before entering the police force, while world-renowned criminologist Dr. Jack Levin spoke to GMercyU students about serial killing and mass murder.

The chance to earn your Act 120 – an essential step to becoming a police officer – during your senior year as part of your four-year degree at no extra cost, unlike other criminal justice programs. (See more on this below.)

The chance to present your own research at GMercyU’s annual University Research Conference.

Inside Out ProgramGMercyU’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program® brings incarcerated and non-incarcerated students together as peers for weekly meetings at the Federal Detention Center of Philadelphia.

Started in 1997 and brought to GMercyU in 2019, The Inside-Out Prison Exchange® is an international educational program created to inspire social change through dialogue and collaboration.

The program offers GMercyU “outside” students the unique experience to meet “inside” students of the correctional facility and exchange thoughts and perspectives about social inequalities, prison reform, and restorative justice.

“Realizing there’s another group of people just like you who were incarcerated because of different life circumstances is a truly transformative experience for students and instructors alike," says GMercyU Associate Professor and Criminal Justice Program Coordinator, Patrick McGrain, PhD. "You can’t get this kind of experience in the classroom or even through an internship.” 

Students have described it as a life-changing experience. 

Watch the video below to learn more:

As a GMercyU Criminal Justice major, you have the option of attending the Montgomery County Police Academy at the Montgomery County Community College. Here, you can earn your Act 120, an essential step in pursuing a career as a police officer.

Once you are accepted into GMercyU's Criminal Justice Program, this special training is offered during your senior year as part of your four-year degree without extended time or expense, unlike other criminal justice schools.

To learn more, see the "Montgomery Community College" tab of our Partnerships page.

In addition to General Education requirements, students seeking a criminal justice degree must complete the following courses:  

Major requirements

CRJ 102 Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRJ 215 Criminology
CRJ 216 Race, Class, and Ethnicity
CRJ 220 Ethics in Criminal Justice
CRJ 225 Juvenile Delinquency
CRJ 250 Police & Law Enforcement in America
CRJ 251 Victimology
CRJ 310 Introduction to Criminal Justice Research
CRJ 320 Forensics: Crime Scene Investigation
CRJ 326 Criminal Procedures
CRJ 327 Criminal Law
CRJ 370 Corrections
CRJ 405 Criminal Investigation
CRJ 410 Courts in America
CRJ 435 Criminal Justice Internship
CRJ 4000 CRJ Capstone
CRJ Electives 4 Criminal Justice Electives: Cultural Criminology; Stalking & Domestic Violence; Violence & Criminal Justice; Sexual Deviance; Wrongful Convictions; Organized Crime; Terrorism & Hate Groups; White Collar Crime; Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program®, Serial Killers


Credit Requirements

A minimum of 120 credits is required for the bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Undergraduate Minors
Increase the value of your degree as a criminal justice major by adding an undergraduate minor that best suits your personal and professional goals.

Wondering what your classes will look like as a Criminal Justice major? Here are a few highlights.

CRJ 205 Stalking and Domestic Violence
You will look at the social factors that contribute to the incidence and prevalence of both stalking and domestic violence and examine victim outcomes and the criminal justice response to these crimes.

CRJ 299 Serial Killers 
Debuting Spring 2023, more information to come!

CRJ 303 Sexual Deviance
You will study the characteristics and development of sexual deviance, as well as examine the criminological, psychological, and physiological components of addiction. Specialized offenders such as pedophiles, juvenile offenders, and cyberstalkers are examined, with the hope of shedding light on how these perpetrators operate and how to spot them.

CRJ 304 Wrongful Convictions
This course will cover the causes of wrongful convictions. You will also examine the role system variables play in such convictions such as police line-ups, expert testimony, witness preparation, judicial discretion, and jury bias.

CRJ 311 Organized Crime
This course is a study of the many facets of organized crime. The theoretical explanations behind organized crime groups will be examined. You will build and operate your own organized crime syndicate, then utilize the criminal justice system to dismantle your syndicate.

For all criminal justice program course descriptions, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.

Patrick McGrain, PhD
Patrick McGrain, PhD

Position: Program Coordinator and Associate Professor, Criminal Justice
Did You Know? Professor McGrain is co-author of the book Inside the Minds of Social Predators.
Read bio


Lorraine Phillips, PhD

Lorraine Phillips, PhD

Position: Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice
Did You Know? One of Professor Phillips’ focuses is the intersection of psychology and law.
Read bio

One of my favorite things about Gwynedd’s Criminal Justice Program is definitely how close-knit we all are. Whether it be our colleagues or our professors, everyone is here to help each other. There has never been a moment where I held back on asking a question or telling a story or showing up at my professors’ offices, whether about school or personal advice or anything – they are there to help us. There’s never a day that we don’t feel that. 

—Mackenzie Iocona '20

Real-World Opportunities

The Griffin Edge is comprised of five touchpoints -- Excellence, Engagement, Experience, Empathy, and Encouragement -- that become the cornerstones of your Distinctive Mercy Experience as a full-time undergraduate student.

The Griffin Edge includes an e-portfolio for documenting your GMercyU educational and extracurricular experiences (no matter your major), reflecting on those experiences, and receiving feedback from faculty. It's designed to help you take ownership of your educational journey and chart the right career path for you. It will also help you learn how to talk about your college experiences in meaningful ways — and that can make all the difference in a job interview. 

For example, a student might say in a job interview: "I conducted research at the undergraduate level." 

A Griffin Edge student might say: "The opportunity to conduct my own research alongside expert faculty taught me the importance of being exact in my data collection and analysis. I was even able to present my findings at our annual research conference! I know this is the career for me."

Learn more about the Griffin Edge here.

The program requires an internship, as they often lead to job offers for our students. Dr. Lorraine Phillips works with all Criminal Justice majors to find internships that best suit your career goals, taking advantage of our local and national alumni connections. Our students have recently interned at these organizations and more: 

  • Abington Police Department
  • ATF Field Office
  • Bucks County Adult Probation/Parole Department
  • Bucks County Juvenile Probation
  • City of Philadelphia: Office of Forensic Science
  • Day Break Drug Treatment Ready
  • Federal Public Defender, Camden NJ
  • GMercyU Public Safety Department
  • Lansdale Police Department
  • Montgomery County Department of Corrections
  • Montgomery County Detective Bureau
  • Montgomery County Department of Probation and Parole
  • Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Montgomery County Youth Center
  • Norristown Police Department
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Philadelphia Department of Probation & Parole
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • Philadelphia Justice Center
  • Philadelphia Police Department Crime Scene Unit
  • Pottstown Police Department
  • Target – Department of Loss Prevention
  • Upper Dublin Police Department
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Warrington Police Department 

Earning a BS in Criminal Justice can lead you to an exciting and well-paid career that enables you to serve your community in a meaningful way. Here are just a few of the many opportunities you could pursue.


Description: Work as a public defender or district attorney or pursue the type of law that most appeals to your interests and passions.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree, followed by a degree in law.
Average Salary: In 2022, the annual media pay nationwide was $135,740 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Criminal Investigator

Description: Put your analytical skills to use as a police detective or private investigator as you work on criminal cases and gather evidence to be used in court.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree.
Average Salary: In 2022, the annual media pay nationwide was $52,120 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Probation Officer

Description: Help keep criminal offenders who are on probation on the right path by regularly meeting with them, monitoring them, and arranging social services for them. You’ll also document everything for the court.
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree.
Average Salary: In 2022, the annual media pay nationwide was $60,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More Possible Careers for Criminal Justice Majors

  • Body Guard
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • CIA Agent
  • Community Service Coordinator
  • Compliance Manager
  • Corrections Officer
  • Deportation Officer
  • Detective
  • Drug Enforcement Agent
  • FBI Agent
  • Firefighter
  • Juvenile Court Counselor
  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Paralegal
  • Parole Officer
  • Police Detective
  • Private Investigator
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Social Worker
  • State Police Officer
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Teacher
  • US Marshall

*This is only a partial list and not meant to limit you. Some of these careers may require additional education.

Wondering Where You Might Eventually Work?

GMercyU criminal justice alumni have recently made their mark at these organizations:

  • Abington Police Department
  • ATF Field Office
  • Bucks County Juvenile Probation  Bucks County Clerk of Courts, Criminal Division
  • Hatboro Police Department
  • Lansdale Police Department Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center
  • Montgomery County Clerk of Courts
  • Montgomery County Department of Corrections
  • Montgomery County Department of Probation and Parole
  • Norristown Police Department
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Philadelphia Department of Probation & Parole
  • Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
  • Philadelphia Police Department Crime Scene Unit
  • Pottstown Police Department SEPTA Police Department
  • Target – Department of Loss Prevention
  • Upper Dublin Police Department Upper Moreland Police Department
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Walmart – Loss Prevention Unit
  • Warrington Police Department

Criminal Justice grad William Allen '22William Allen '22
Current Position: GFCC Screening Analyst IV, JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Master's Degree in Global Affairs student; Middle School Boy’s Lacrosse Head Coach
"Through not only my Criminal Justice classes, but also my Computer Information Science and Honors Program classes, I developed new interests that I do not think I would have otherwise. GMercyU grants a kind of freedom to explore that, to me, is very valuable."

Among many pursuits at GMercyU, William played lacrosse, founded the Adventure Club, and interned for the Department of Homeland Security. Learn more about his experience.

Criminal Justice grad Jenna Tryhall
Jenna Trythall '20

Current Position: Senior Loss Prevention Analyst for RGG
Jenna credits the Criminal Justice program with helping her land a loss prevention internship the summer before graduation. The internship taught her team building, loss analysis, and hands-on investigation techniques -- and that she wanted to pursue loss prevention as a career. 

"Post-grad reality set in when the global pandemic hit, and many jobs were going off the market. I relied on my professors to keep my drive alive, and it paid off. A couple months after graduation, I landed my dream job as a loss prevention analyst with an online fashion retailer, Rue Gilt Groupe." Learn more about Jenna's experience. 

Criminal Justice grad Sarah Crane
Sarah Crane ’19

Current Position: Legal Clerk, Held Law Firm
Sarah interned at the Philadelphia City Hall while a student at GMercyU. She also conducted and presented independent research on natural disasters and crime rates. A student-athlete and member of the Criminal Justice National Honor Society, Sarah also completed the GSLI Exceptional Leaders Program, and was a Disciplinary Hearing Board Member and peer tutor.

“GMercyU taught me to understand dense theories by compartmentalizing all of the required elements and seeing how each element is essential to that theory. This has been increasingly helpful in understanding law and legal concepts.” Learn more about Sarah's experience.

Criminal Justice grad Greg Borgman
Tim Brass '19

Current Position: Adult Probation Officer, Montgomery County
While at GMercyU, Tim interned with the Clerk of Courts in Montgomery County during his sophomore year, and with the Montgomery County Adult Probation and Parole Department during the summer before his senior year -- there he learned he wanted to be an Adult Probation Officer as his career. After graduation, he was offered a full-time offer.

“I truly believe the internship is the main reason I was able to secure a full-time offer. I was able to show my work ethic and value to the department. I am still with the department, and I love that my job is different every day.” Learn more about Tim's experience."

Meet more Criminal Justice alumni.

Next Steps

Have questions about GMercyU's admissions requirements? Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s Criminal Justice Program.

Phone: 215-641-5510

Apply now

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

Get the education you need for a fulfilling career in criminal justice. Earn your Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice at GMercyU!

Apply now